The MIL had procured for us seats to see the SF Symphony's Youth Orchestra, with the idea that because Sophie plays the violin, she would be interested in other children playing the instruments. Not necessarily so, especially when the children are teenagers who are virtually indistinguishable from adults and playing symphonic music a quarter mile away.
After our last chamber music debacle, Sophie understandably wailed "WHHHYYYY do I have to go to something like this again???" Because, I explained, I have totally failed you as a parent and neglected to look out for your best interest [and mine] when your grandmother asked me six months ago if I thought you would enjoy this performance. When I asked the MIL if she thought this would be a performance geared toward kids, she replied "Of course! There are children IN IT!" Because I am an idiot, I took this at face value and failed to investigate further, which would have revealed that this performance was recommended for children twelve and over because even though it was a performance BY children, it was essentially a performance FOR adults.
I came up with the brilliant idea of using this as an acting exercise. "Remember how when you were learning to eat in restaurants we would pretend we were two polite ladies going out for lunch? Let's switch things up a bit." I then proceeded to blow all my general nutrition standards, stopping at 711 on the way to pick up the MIL to stock up on candy ("Anything you want, honey!") and buying her potato chips (for $3 a bag!!) at intermission.
Anything to help her through it. After all, we were partners in this ordeal. But although it was not completely horrible, it did give me lots of time to reflect on the situation.
We like music. We like classical music. Sophie is perfectly satisfied for me to flip the radio between NPR and the classical station most of the time we are in the car. She enjoyed being in the SF Opera and does not mind my playing our cd of Thomas Hampson singing Verdi arias endlessly; she knows which two are from Macbeth and what she was doing either on stage or backstage when they were playing. We both enjoy ballet. But you know what?
We hate the symphony. Both of us. Hate it.
We like music when there is something beside just music: acting, scenery, spectacle (opera) or dance (ballet). And maybe part of it is that the music we heard at the symphony was just not "our music." Feeling the need for a little of this, I cranked the radio on the way home when a live version of Freebird came on. "This," I explained, "was a very important song when I was a teenager." It still is, sort of an anthem to a certain time. After a few verses, I could hear Sophie singing along "I'm as free as a bird now. And this bird you cannot change. . . . Lord, help me I can't cha-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-nge." When we pulled up in front of the house, she climbed up into the front seat to hear out the rest of the extended jam, dancing in our seats, playing the air drums—getting out all our yayas from the day. The contrast between this music you could participate in with your body and the music we had listened to earlier that day sitting on on asses with purses in our laps, audience members snoring softly around us, was immeasurable. I know the MIL is vastly impressed by and enjoys the symphony, but does she ever get off on it the way Sophie and I did to Freebird while dancing in our car?
Walking in the house, Sophie wanted to know if we could go see the band that plays that song. I told her about the summer I missed seeing Lynyrd Skynyrd in concert because we were on a family vacation. Before they could tour again, their plane went down in flames, and that was the end of Lynyrd Skynyrd. So no, I couldn't take her to that concert, although god, what I would give to be able to. Can I put the song on her iPod? "I've just got to have it." Absolutely. I can do that.
Turn it up.